Vysne Nemecke, Slovakia:
When Russia invaded Ukraine last week, French professor Yves Gineste didn’t think twice — he set out for a four-day drive to the eastern edge of Slovakia to offer his home in Perpignan to refugees.
Carrying a cardboard sign that read “One family for a home in France, travel and home free,” he registered with a charity at Vysne Nemecke, a border crossing on the Slovakia-Ukraine border.
A few hours later, he helped 26-year-old manicurist Nastia Kiselyova, along with a friend who was traveling with her daughter and niece, to load their belongings into his motor home before heading back to the some 2,000 km (1,200 miles) southwest of France.
Upon hearing of the invasion “I couldn’t believe it,” the 70-year-old, a medical research professor who works at Kyoto University for six months a year and normally rents out the Perpignan house, told Reuters.
“I decided to go immediately… It’s an emergency. And in an emergency we have to act, we have to respect our values. And my value is that we are brothers.”
More than a million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24 and began shelling Kiev and other cities, the United Nations said Thursday.
Tired and struggling to process a mixture of emotions, Kiselyova said her group waited more than eight hours at the Kiev train station on Wednesday before boarding a packed train to Uzhhorod, on the Slovakian border.
“We heard shelling after we left Kiev, we were told to pull down the curtains so that the light in the train was not visible,” she said.
She said she left her parents behind, her father was military age and her mother worked as a nurse in a military hospital, and her group had an acquaintance in Spain where they could try to travel on from France.
But as a non-English speaker, she worried about the prospect of finding work and fought back tears as she talked about the chances of coming home again. “They shoot at everything, playgrounds, schools. Not strategic objects, but houses, cars,” she said.
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